In this guide, I am going to discuss the best spinning reels for brook trout fishing. I will cover the most suitable sizes, for both small stream trout plus the much larger ones found further north. I will also give my recommendations for the 5 spinning reels I feel are the best value.
I suppose one common question is, do I need a special spinning for targeting brook trout? Well, to be honest. Any trout size spinning reel will do. If you have a reel for Rainbows or browns it to well catch brookies.
So what are Brook trout?
Brook trout are a species of char endemic to the northwest region of North America, although they have been introduced to many rivers and lakes outside of their historical range. Generally the further north you fish the larger and more abundant they become. Brook trout thrive in cold conditions, and in cold streams can even outcompete the more invasive brown trout.
Native Brook trout down in Georgia, are typically small and restricted to only the smallest of mountain creeks high in the Appalachians.
Further north, in the likes of Maine, Brook trout become more common and thanks to the colder water they can grow to larger sizes. In the cooler northern climates, brook trout are frequently caught not only in the headwater streams but also in ponds and some small rivers wherein the colder waters they are better able to compete against invasive species such as Brown trout and Bass. Further north again, in Canada the average brook trout grows even larger. With trout over 6lbs not unheard of.
In some rare cases, Brook trout even enter the sea becoming anadromous. Those Brook trout, known as Salters can grow to impressive sizes. Although due to habitat loss and competition from invasive species Salters only occur in a fraction of their historical range.
So a reel that might be a perfect size for targeting the small stream brooks down south, might be a little on the weak side for catching the larger Brook trout found in the likes of Quebec. Some of which are diadromous spending part of their time in the sea.
What size spinning reel to catch brook trout living in streams?
I like to use ultralight gear when fishing for stream trout. Typically a 1000 size reel works well. An ultralight reel balances better with the lightweight rods which are designed to cast with fine lines. Due to the small size of the brookies, and the limited casting space 100yards of 4lb line is plenty.
I sometimes see new anglers fishing with reels that are much too large. More suitable for saltwater species or maybe Bass. There is simply no need to fish with a reel capable of holding hundreds of yards of line when the furthest you are going to cast is a dozen yards.
There is no one standard size between fishing brands, sizing is also not always consistent within brands. Many fishermen like to use 1000 size reels when targeting trout and panfish in small streams. If you do not mind carrying a slightly heavier reel, and using slightly more line. Moving up one reel size can greatly reduce the amount of line twist.
I also advise against using 500 or 750 size reels. They are simply too small. The tiny size of the spools restricts casting distances, and they can create terrible line twists. Leave 500 size reels for ice fishing.
What size spinning reel to catch larger brook trout?
When targeting larger size book trout, I recommend using a slightly larger reel, so go for a 2000 or maybe even a 2500 size rather than 1000.
This is especially the case when fishing in lakes and ponds where long casts can be beneficial. While a 1000 size reel is probably adequate for most brook trout fishing, I personally use a 2000 or even a 2500 size reel. I prefer the larger spool not only does it hold more line, but it does improve casting distance while minimizing the potential for line twist developing.
While a 1000 size reel is probably adequate for most brook trout fishing, I personally use a 2000 or even 2500 size reel. A lightweight 2000 size reel such as the Daiwa Regal LT still balances ultralight rods just fine.
Suggested reel sizes for brook trout
- Shimano 1000 to 2500
- Daiwa 1000 to 2000
- Okuma 10 to 20
- Pflueger 20 to 25
- Abu Garcia 10 to 20
How much drag when targeting brook trout?
There is no need for more than 6lb of drag when targeting brook trout, in most cases 2lb of drag is sufficient. To match the breaking strain of the line, we only need 1 or 2lb of drag. (Set your drag to about 25% of your lines breaking strain). All modern reels exceed that amount of drag pressure by far.
Brook trout do not generally grow to large sizes, while they can be feisty and pull some string. There is still not much need for a very powerful drag. When targeting brook trout most fishermen use lines somewhere between 2 and 6lb breaking strain.
What type of drag is best?
I like to use a reel with a greased felt drag. Felt drags trend to be very smooth and well suited for lightweight line. There is zero need for a carbon drag when targeting brook trout.
Carbon drags are useful when fish fight hard and pull a lot of string. This causes the drag to heat up damaging it. Brooks do not fight hard enough to produce significant heat.
How many ball bearings?
The smoothness of modern reels has more to do with the tolerances of the machining and the lubricants which the manufacturers use. A poorly constructed reel, with borderline tolerances but plenty of lubricants might feel smooth when new, but after a few months, they start to feel rough. They require frequent maintenance to keep them feeling like new.
Quality reels have much tighter tolerances, so they continue to feel smooth for months. They are smooth because they are built well. A well built reel, will feel smooth with only a few ball bearings. A cheap reel with a dozen ball bearings is unlikely to feel any better than cheap reel with only a few because the tolerance of the gears is what really matters and more bearings does not fix that.
So to answer the question. A reel really only needs 2 or 3 ball bearings to feel smooth. Any extra is just a luxury that may help to prolong longevity but probably only there for marketing reasons.
The best Brook trout reels for under $50
I really like the Shimano FX, or the very comparable Shimano Sienna. These reels typically retail for under $30 and for the price they are actually built better than most entry level reels.
They are also a rather lightweight reel, with the 1000 size weighing in at only 7.2oz. This lighter weight is the reason why I prefer the Shimano FX over the slightly more capable Daiwa Crossfire.
Read my full review here
The Okuma Ceymar brings a lot of value for a reel typically costing under $50. The feature which bests sets it its weight. The smallest, size 10 weighs in at only 6oz. That is impressively light for a reel in this price bracket.
Now, do not confuse the weight for low quality. The build quality is actually quite good. It is a very efficiently designed reel, and the graphite frame is rigid enough not to flex despite the lightweight construction.
It comes with 6+1 ball bearings which are more than enough. The gearing is zinc gearing, so pretty standard at this price point. The Okuma Ceymar might just be the best ultralight reel for under $50.
Read my full review here
Best Brook Trout Reel for Under $100
The President is one of the most seen spinning reels on North American trout rivers. The smallest size weighs in at just 6.2oz. That is even lighter than a Shimano Stradic (Although the Stradic does a full aluminum frame).
It features a full graphite frame, smooth felt drag, a lot of ball bearings. The line lay is not quite as good as the next two reels on this, but it still handles monofilament just fine.
There is a reason why the President is such a popular reel, it represents excellent value for money.
Read my full review here
Daiwa Regal LT
The second spinning reel we recommend for under $100 is the extremely impressive Daiwa Regal LT.
The build quality of this reel is impressive, with tight tolerances, stiff construction. This is a reel that is going to last.
The Regal LT which an oversize spool, which helps reduce line twist and improves casting distance. Being a Daiwa the line lay is excellent. If you are having trouble with line twist, the regal lT might just be your answer.
What else to say, it has 9+2 ball bearings, full carbon construction and 11lb of drag. An all round impressive reel. I almost forgot, it weighs in at only 6.7oz.
Finally, the 1000D and 2000D uses the same size frame. The 2000D just uses a larger spool. So unless you want to save line, we suggest using the 2000 size.
Read my full review here
Best premium spinning Reel for brook trout fishing
The Shimano Stradic is a timeless classic. The Stardic has long be regarded as one of the best spinning reels for trout fishing. It is not cheap, costing around $200 but you are getting a lot of reel for that money.
Firstly, they are built with amazingly tight tolerances. They feel smooth when new, and if my 15 year old Stradic is anything to go by, they still feel smooth after years of use. So if you want a reel that should last a decade, I suggest spending a little extra and purchasing a Stradic.
The 1000 size Stradic weighs in at only 6.5oz and has 6 ball bearings, but if you want to go even lighter. The magnesium frame Stradic ci4 weighs in at just 5.6oz.
Read my full review here
Disclaimer: Some of our pages contain affiliate links. At no cost to you, Troutresource may receive commission from purchases made through such links. Here at Troutresource we try are hardest to give unbias advice and gear recommendations independent on whether we earn a commission or not.